New Delhi: Aiming to enhance the training curriculum of its pilots, Indian Air Force has procured four simulators for Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) aircraft and more such machines have been contracted by it for simulated training.
In a written reply to the Rajya Sabha, Defence Minister AK Antony said, "IAF has already procured four simulators for Hawk AJT aircraft. Four more (AJT simulators) have been contracted. Further, eight simulators of IJT aircraft, have also been contracted for."
He told Parliament that acquisition of new platform is part of modernisation and upgradation of IAF`s capabilities.
"The new combat aircraft (under various process of acquisition) would be manned by pilots of the existing older fleet, which are planned for replacement by the new aircraft," Antony said.
On steps taken by government to overcome shortage of pilots, he said,
"Improvement of job profile of pilots is a continuous process in view the job specific requirements and operational necessity. Besides, the Short Service Commission for flying branch has been modified to make men eligible for induction in this branch."
He said, "Implementation of the recommendations of sixth Central Pay Commission shall also go a long way in attracting youth."
Replying to a question on number of officers inducted in the three services against those who took premature retirement, Antony said in 2011, 593 officers left the armed forces against the total number of 3057 who joined it.
He tabled a three-year report on officers taking premature retirement.
Against the total number of 8314 officers who joined the armed forces from 2009 to 2011, 1663 officers took premature retirement in the same period.
Replying to a question on procuring VIP helicopters, the Defence Minister said choppers are being purchased to replace the ageing Mi-8 aircraft of IAF`s Communication Squadron.
"Contract for procurement of AW-101 helicopters was signed with Agusta Westland in February 2010 at a cost of Euro 556,262,026. These helicopters would replace the ageing Mi-8 helicopters of the Air Headquarters Communication Squadron that provides communication services to VVIPs/VIPs including visiting Heads of States/Governments," he said.
In reply to a question on expenditure incurred by government on defence purchases, he said, "The total expenditure on defence purchases by India during the past three years (Revenue and Capital) was Rs 1,97,123.76 crore."
Informing the House on damage caused to the fencing along the Line of Control with Pakistan following an avalanche in February, he said an accurate assessment can only be made after the melting of snow there.
Replying to a question on license to private companies, Minister of State for Defence MM Pallam Raju said, "25 private companies have been given licenses to manufacture defence equipment from January 2011 till date."